Intercept Program reaching at-risk youth - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Intercept Program reaching at-risk youth

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)
CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) -

Thursday night, a 15-year-old was arrested for shooting a 16-year-old. This is just the most recent violent gun crime involving teenagers in Savannah.

Friday morning, Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap told Chatham County commissioners how reaching young victims of violent crime early on, can help save lives.

Chatham County's Youth Intercept Program is paid for by grant money and offers young people who are either tied up in crime or victims of crime themselves a way out.

At Friday's County Commission meeting, District Attorney Meg Heap explained the benefits of having a program like the Youth Intercept Program.

"The main thing is to get in there, talk to the kid, talk to the parents...you know, how do we stop this? Because you know retaliation is huge, so if somebody doesn't intercede, we see it statistically, you see it in the newspaper that it's back and forth," said Heap. 

One of the key advantages of the Youth Intercept Program is the partnership they hold with the Memorial University Medical Center. It allows Intercept's workers to start working as soon as victims of violent crime are out of surgery or treatment. 

"We're actually able to go in daily, and talk to them while they're there, and offer support, and just check on them. So we build that rapport from there, and then they're interested in our program," said Intercept Program's Director Sheryl Sams. 

Friday, we got to see some of those success stories.

Wynette Jackson, the mother of a program participant, said, "I've enjoyed it. His attitude has changed."

The program's director backed up the testimonials with stats. 

Sams said, "The kids that are participating in our program, with the school system, there is a twenty percent increase in their academic rates, and also a 75 percent increase in their attendance."

The goals the Youth Intercept Program have for the community's youth goes beyond success in the classroom. A successful induction could save lives.

Heap said, "And the stats show that if somebody doesn't intercede, that's the word, if somebody doesn't stop that violence, that cycle, they're going to become a homicide victim within a year or they're going to commit a homicide."

To get in touch with the Intercept Program coordinators, call 912.350.0231 or 912.350.0230.

Click here to find out more about the program. 

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